Blogging the Bookshelf

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Progressives Spiritual and Rhetorical Mistake – “Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays” – David Foster Wallace

July 12th, 2011 · No Comments · Electoralism, Means and Ends, Philosophy, Political Communication, Politics, Progressive Politics

For in refusing to abandon the idea of themselves as Uniquely Generous and Compassionate (i.e., as morally superior), progressives lose the chance to frame their redistributive arguments in terms that are both realistic and realpolitikal. One such argument would involve a complex, sophisticated analysis of what we really mean by self-interest, particularly the distinctions between short-term financial self-interest and longer-term moral or social self-interest. As it is, though, liberals’ vanity tends to grant conservatives a monopoly on appeals to self-interest, enabling the conservatives to depict progressives as pie-in-the-sky idealists and themselves as real-world back-pocket pragmatists. In short, leftists’ big mistake here is not conceptual or ideological but spiritual and rhetorical—their narcissistic attachment to assumptions that maximize their own appearance of virtue tends to cost them both the theater and the war.


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